September 24, 2003 14:10 | Culture

Found translation

The New York Times has posted a translation of one of the key scenes in Sofia Coppola's brilliant film "Lost in Translation" which is entirely in japanese, without subtitles.

The scene is brilliant, and seeing this translation in hindsight makes it even more so.


Bob, who is in town to make a whiskey commercial, doesn't speak
Japanese. His director (Yutaka Tadokoro), a histrionic Japanese
hipster, doesn't speak English. In one scene, Bob goes on the set and
tries to understand the director through a demure interpreter (Akiko
Takeshita), who is either unable or (more likely) unwilling to
translate everything the director is rattling on about.

Needless to say, Bob is lost. And without subtitles, so is the
audience. Here, translated into English, is what the fulmination is
really about.

DIRECTOR (in Japanese to the interpreter): The translation is very
important, O.K.? The translation.

INTERPRETER: Yes, of course. I understand.

DIRECTOR: Mr. Bob-san. You are sitting quietly in your study. And then
there is a bottle of Suntory whiskey on top of the table. You
understand, right? With wholehearted feeling, slowly, look at the
camera, tenderly, and as if you are meeting old friends, say the
words. As if you are Bogie in "Casablanca," saying, "Cheers to you
guys," Suntory time!

INTERPRETER: He wants you to turn, look in camera. O.K.?

BOB: That's all he said?

INTERPRETER: Yes, turn to camera.

BOB: Does he want me to, to turn from the right or turn from the left?

INTERPRETER (in very formal Japanese to the director): He has prepared
and is ready. And he wants to know, when the camera rolls, would you
prefer that he turn to the left, or would you prefer that he turn to
the right? And that is the kind of thing he would like to know, if you
don't mind.

DIRECTOR (very brusquely, and in much more colloquial Japanese):
Either way is fine. That kind of thing doesn't matter. We don't have
time, Bob-san, O.K.? You need to hurry. Raise the tension. Look at the
camera. Slowly, with passion. It's passion that we want. Do you

INTERPRETER (In English, to Bob): Right side. And, uh, with intensity.

BOB: Is that everything? It seemed like he said quite a bit more than

DIRECTOR: What you are talking about is not just whiskey, you know. Do
you understand? It's like you are meeting old friends. Softly,
tenderly. Gently. Let your feelings boil up. Tension is important!
Don't forget.

INTERPRETER (in English, to Bob): Like an old friend, and into the camera.


DIRECTOR: You understand? You love whiskey. It's Suntory time! O.K.?


DIRECTOR: O.K.? O.K., let's roll. Start.

BOB: For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.

DIRECTOR: Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut! (Then in a very male form of
Japanese, like a father speaking to a wayward child) Don't try to fool
me. Don't pretend you don't understand. Do you even understand what we
are trying to do? Suntory is very exclusive. The sound of the words is
important. It's an expensive drink. This is No. 1. Now do it again,
and you have to feel that this is exclusive. O.K.? This is not an
everyday whiskey you know.

INTERPRETER: Could you do it slower and ?

DIRECTOR: With more ecstatic emotion.

INTERPRETER: More intensity.

DIRECTOR (in English): Suntory time! Roll.

BOB: For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.

DIRECTOR: Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut! God, I'm begging you.


I can't wait to see this movie!!!
Great site!